For someone who preaches positivity, why has Tom Brady been so negative lately?

Ryan Hannable
October 09, 2019 - 6:35 am

What is one of the No. 1 traits associated with Tom Brady? Right up there with his competitiveness, it’s his positivity. 

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“I’m just a positive person,” Brady has said countless times over the years.

But recently, when it comes to the Patriots offense, especially the pass catchers, he hasn’t been very positive at all -- even with the 5-0 start to the year.

On Tuesday, when he was asked about his confidence in the tight ends — Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo — following the release of Benjamin Watson on Monday, it continued the trend from recent weeks.

“I’m the quarterback, so I don’t make those decisions,” he said. “Whoever’s out there, that’s who I’ve got to play with.”

Brady added: “Yeah, those guys, they’re competing hard. I think they’re trying, and Matt hasn’t been out there as much as we all would have wanted, certainly what he would have wanted. Ryan’s done quite a few things for us. Again, I think part of the reference to practice earlier is we’re trying to get out there and utilize the reps we can in practice, talk about things, communicate through the things that come up in practice, so that, again, we can execute when we need to in the game.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the pair. All they got were “they’re competing hard,” which is the same thing he could say about a player on the practice squad. 

Then there was his appearance with Jim Gray on Westwood One Radio a few weeks ago prior to Monday Night Football.

Brady was asked about the offense and replacing Rob Gronkowski and Trent Brown for this season. Within the answer he appeared to call out “veteran” players.

“The reality of the NFL is other people have to step in and fill the void when you lose great players," he said. "The burden is always going to fall on somebody in football, somebody always has the tough job. When you are a younger player you shouldn’t be the one everyone is counting on. The veteran players need to do that. Our veteran players need to do a great job, especially the ones on offense who have been around. 

“I think that is what, from my standpoint, as an offense we’ve got to be able to do. Our veteran leaders on offense have to share more of the burden and then you let some of the younger guys continue to build and grow in their confidence so that you can somehow work the ball down the field and score some points.”

While he didn’t call out anyone by name, it’s not too hard to read between the lines and see who he was referring to -- likely Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett.

These are the two pass-catchers who haven’t performed as well as some expected and fall under the veteran category. And really, who else would Brady be referring to when he said, “our veteran players need to do a great job?” Certainly not Julian Edelman or James White.

And lastly when it comes to Brady’s lack of positivity of late, it was directed towards the younger receivers.

“I think it’s up to – I think one thing we talk about here is just doing our jobs,” he said last Friday. “I mean, I can do what I can do. Every player can do what they can do. I can’t do anything for anyone else; they can’t do anything for me. So, a lot of it’s just trust and trying to communicate trust and communication. So, I’ve always said the best teammates are the ones that I have to think about the least because I don’t want to spend my mental energy on things that aren’t really my job.”

Basically, he’s saying he can’t do anything to get them to learn the offense, and it’s totally on them. That doesn’t really seem like the right thing to be saying to a rookie like say Jakobi Meyers. He probably needs some positive feedback from the quarterback he’s trying to build trust with.

Contrary to all this, Brady has shown positivity towards his offensive line, despite its up-and-down play.

“I think those guys are playing great football," he said Monday on The Greg Hill Show. "The pass protection has been great all season. There’s a really hard-working, tough group up there -- Ted (Karras), Joe (Thuney), Marcus (Cannon), Shaq (Mason), Marshall (Newhouse) has been in there. We’ve had a lot of moving parts at that position dating back to training camp. We added a bunch of new players right after the final cut, so for Dante Scarnecchia to get all those guys together, and then dealing with Isaiah Wynn’s injury and dealing with David Andrews, I think that has been pretty exceptional what those guys have accomplished. I am very proud of them.”

So, what gives?

Why can Brady be so positive towards his offensive line, but has so much trouble offering much towards his pass-catchers, particularly young and inexperienced players like LaCosse, Izzo and Meyers?

Maybe it’s a message to the organization. Maybe it’s his way of saying he really wants some help in the passing game at the upcoming trade deadline and this is his way of expressing he can’t work with what he has for the entire season. He wasn’t saying any of this when Antonio Brown was in the picture.

But, it appeared once he was released, Brady’s whole mindset towards the offense changed. No longer was it an offense that had the potential to put up 2007-like numbers, now it’s an offense that struggles at times to move the ball down the field.

The always positive attitude for Brady just hasn’t been there of late, and it appears we may know why.

Stay tuned. The trade deadline is in three weeks.

Related: Patriots reportedly work out 3 players, including kicker